By Sharon Gibbons
Recently, on a beautiful, clear and sunny day on the Bay, I was walking the Bay Trail in Richmond near Meeker Slough to view the King Tides. As the King Tides swallowed the slough and the shoreline, forcing shorebirds to huddle on narrow strips of beach and rocks amidst the stunning vistas of San Francisco and the East Bay, I reflected on the warning posed by these unusual tides. Scientists studying the Bay and the effects of climate change warn that sea level rise could resemble the King Tide water levels with accelerating sea level rise developing in the next fifty years and beyond.
In response to the threatened changes brought about by climate change such as sea level rise and extreme weather events, a consortium of scientists and governmental agencies have been working to develop regional plans to protect the Bay. They have published two reports, the most recent one: “The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do” which recommends working regionally and rapidly to restore complete wetland systems with the goal of restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands by 2030.
To support rapid implementation and regional coordination, the San Francisco Restoration Authority is placing The Clean and Healthy Bay ballot measure on the 2016 June ballot proposing to add a $12.00 annual parcel tax to residents in the nine counties ringing the Bay to provide funding for bay restoration and enhancement. This ballot measure requires two-thirds approval and the tax would provide an estimated $25 million dollars annually for twenty years.
If the measure passes, it would provide stable funding for comprehensive goals to protect and restore the Bay by funding shoreline projects that would:
- Reduce trash, pollution and harmful toxins
- Improve water quality
- Restore habitat for fish, birds and wildlife
- Protect communities from floods
- Increase shoreline access for public enjoyment
Half of the funds would be allocated geographically: North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and the West Bay based on population and half would be allocated without regard to county. Because state and federal funding is limited and can be intermittent, there is much hope that this measure will pass and support many projects ringing the Bay. The measure is a hopeful and positive investment in the future of the Bay.